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Polarization ecology of the rocky shore

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We are used to seeing the world in colour and brightness, but the visual scene around us is full of information that is invisible to humans. A prime example of this is polarization, which refers to the orientation of light waves as theytravel through space. Surprisingly, many animals make use of this property of light and some have sophisticated polarization vision systems used as a compass sense for navigation, as a beacon to find suitable habitats, and to enhance the detection of objects across the visual scene. Intertidal ecosystems are rich in polarization cues and many of the inhabitants exhibit remarkably sensitive polarization vision. However, the polarization ecology of rocky shore environments, both above and below water, remains poorly understood. Does polarized light play a role in the ecology of rocky shore inhabitants? Do these animals use polarization vision during social or predator-prey interactions? How do environmental conditions influence these polarization-based cues and signals?

Funding Notes

This is a competition funded project through the NERC GW4+ DTP. There is a competitive selection process. This studentship will cover fees, stipend and research costs for UK students and UK residents for 3.5 years.
Preference will be given tocandidates with a clear interest in animal sensory ecology and that can demonstrate an aptitude for field biology. Computer programming experience would also be beneficial.


1)Marshall, N.J., Powell, S.B., Cronin, T.W., Caldwell, R.L., Johnsen, S., Gruev, V. Chiou, T-H., Roberts, N.W., & How, M.J. 2019. Polarization signals: a new currency for communication. Journal of Experimental Biology. 222: 134213. 2)How, M.J., Christy, J.H., Temple, S.E., Hemmi, J.M., Marshall, N.J. & Roberts, N.W. 2015. Target detection is enhanced by polarization vision in a fiddler crab. Current Biology. 25: 3069-3073. 3)How, M.J., Pignatelli, V., Temple, S.E., Marshall, N.J. & Hemmi, J.M. 2012. High e-vector acuity in the polarisation vision system of the fiddler crab Uca vomeris. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215: 2128-2134.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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